Here at Hummingbird, WE LOVE ORGANIC Food! There are so many reasons that Organic is built into our mission "to offer Organic, high-quality, nutritious foods grown as locally and sustainably as possible." The most important reason is health: health for people, animals, the environment, and the planet.
Organic farming protects health and the environment
We really believe in taking care of what we have. Organic farming practices protect public health in both rural and urban communities. Organic reduces the amount of harmful synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones that we could all be exposed to in our environment - with air, water, and soil pollution, and in the food we eat. Chemical pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture persist in the environment after they are used and have been linked to birth defects, obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and other health problems1. Organic also promotes health by producing foods high in nutrients like antioxidants, as well as meat and dairy with beneficial fatty acid profiles.
Organic agriculture protects nearby rural and urban communities from exposure to synthetic pesticides that may persist in the air, water, and soil. People who live in agriculture-intensive regions are at substantially increased risk of poisoning from exposure to pesticide drift than other regions. Children have a higher risk of exposure to these pesticides because they play outside and on the ground. Being exposed to these pesticides can cause cognitive challenges, lower memory and intelligence, impaired brain development, and increased risk of diabetes and asthma2. By prohibiting use of these pesticides, organic agriculture plays an important role in protecting communities from harmful exposures. As they say, we all live downstream.
Regenerative and more
While the definition of "regenerative" is still debated, generally it's accepted to describe agricultural practices that improve natural resources and soil health. The goal is to create farming systems that align with ecosystems and improve quality of life for the people who work in agiculture, native plants, and animals. Organic standards do all that, and more.
Organic creates a sustainable global food supply.
Organic soil-building and practices supporting biodiversity leads to farms that are more resilient to extreme weather conditions such as drought and hurricanes. Worldwide, studies show that farms using organic practices experience fewer losses of crops, topsoil, and money after extreme weather events compared to non-organic farms3.
Comprehensive studies show that organic agriculture can feed 9 billion people by 2050 while protecting the environment at the same time4. Organic minimizes environmental harms associated with other agricultural systems such as loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and water contamination.
Better work environments for farmworkers
Organic provides better working conditions for farmworkers and farmworker families providing protection from routine exposure to synthetic pesticides in the fields and at home. Organic farms are also more likely to provide farmworkers with full-time, year-round employment with better wage opportunities.
Organic practices sequester carbon and fight climate change
Organic farms have high levels of soil organic matter. With high levels of soil organic matter, soils can actually draw down (sequester) large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, storing it in the soil where it can improve soil health, which also reduces levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Plants draw CO2 from the atmosphere and combine it with water via photosynthesis to create the nutrients needed for plant growth as well as the oxygen we breathe. Carbon from the plants is stored in the soil when organic farmers incorporate crop residues. Studies have shown that after 10 years, organic systems resulted in 14 times the rate of carbon sequestration than non-organic soils. Numerous other studies have also demonstrated the power of organic practices to sequester carbon at high rates.
Organic really is a win-win-win for living beings, the planet and the economy!
Organic Certification follows every step of the food supply chain.
Long before an organic product makes it to your table, its journey from seed to package, or bulk bin, is followed closely to verify that it starts and remains organic. The first link in the chain is the land on which the product is grown. Then, the operation growing the product, the post-harvest facilities preparing it, and the processing and handling facilities transforming it - each link in the chain must be certified to the federal organic standards and go through annual reviews and inspections. This way, consumers can trust that what's certified organic is truly organic.
These are some of our favorite reasons for loving Organic, but there are plenty more, see the other posts in the series:
- Organic: Why is it growing?
- Organic: Good for the Planet
- Organic: Good for People and Animals
- Organic: Good for Business
Ready to dig deeper into the research on organic? You can find the references to studies at CCOF's Roadmap to an Organic California: Benefits & Policy Reports with more details so you can explore the science yourself.
1 Marks, A. R., Harley, K., Bradman, A., Kogut, K., Barr, D. B., Johnson, C., . . . Eskenazi, B. (2010). Organophosphate pesticide exposure and attention in young Mexican-American children: the CHAMACOS Study. Environ Health Perspect., 118(12), 1768–1774.
2 Bouchard, M. F., Bellinger, D. C., Wright, R. O., & Weisskopf, M. G. (2010). Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides in U.S. children 8-15 years. Pediatrics, 125(6), e1270–e1277.
3 Leifeld, J., Reiser, R., & Oberholzer, H. R. (2009). Consequences of conventional versus organic farming on soil carbon: results from a 27-year field experiment. Agron J., 101, 1204–1218.
4 Muller, A., Schader, C., El-Hage Scialabba, N., Brüggemann, J., Isensee, A., Erb, K.-H., . . . Niggli, U. (2017). Strategies for feeding the world more sustainably with organic agriculture. Nature Communications, 8, 1290.